So we’re moving into the final stretch of summer. Whether you’re going to spend August touring the various festivals, catching up on your summer reading before start of term, or heading south for some heat, make the most of it.
Apart from (hopefully) getting the chance to wear light shorts and summer dresses, this season is all about those barbecue parties, garden picnics, fruity cocktails and long evenings with good company. Another thing summer’s great for is experimenting with your cooking.
You would have no doubt already tried the trend of incorporating fruit into sauces or roast gravies, as so many restaurants and recipes have been promoting that for a while now.
You may also have tried strawberry soups and strawberry salads, or even some chicken or steak dish incorporating caramelised peaches (if you haven’t – do).
Fruit has evolved from being merely a dessert and jam component into a popular and mainstream ingredient for every course. So since it’s summer, and we’re craving something lighter, but still delicious, let’s see how fruit fares in salads. Specifically, I’m here to promote the use of citrus in your summer salad dishes.
So lemon is versatile enough, you probably already use a wedge here and there. For a fuller flavour, try combining lemon slices and zest with garlic that’s lightly fried in butter, and some fresh thyme for a fantastic coating for your chicken pieces, and then add them to balls of fresh mozzarella, basil and vine tomatoes, and you won’t need any dressing.
Also, use some lemon zest and juice instead of vinegar in your vinaigrette, with some chopped garlic and olive oil, for a healthy and fresh alternative dressing to almost any green salad.
Orange is perhaps a more obscure addition to salads, and regretfully so. Orange pairs so well with fresh rosemary, spinach, and almost any cut of meat.
Try it with some lightly roasted almonds, grilled crispy prosciutto slices and baby green spinach. Cut 3/4 of your peeled orange into the salad (get a blood orange for an extra burst of colour), zest and juice the rest into a small bowl and mix with oil, salt, chili flakes, garlic and honey, and mix in.
For full veggie, replace the prosciutto with some good feta cheese, which will bring that same saltiness. This salad is bursting with flavour, in no small way due to the citrus notes.
Grapefruit can be a welcome addition to many fish and seafood salads. Sprinkle some brown sugar on slices of red grapefruit and add them to your oven-roasted salmon green salad.
Alternatively, you can make a gorgeous avocado and grapefruit salad à la caprese. Layer your avocado and grapefruit in vertical slices, add some lettuce, and make your dressing of olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, half a teaspoon of minced onion, oregano and some brown sugar. The different flavours of this dish are as vibrant as its colours.
There is an abundance of various other recipes you can try with any of the citrus fruit you have lying about your fridge. Combine lime, chili, tomatoes and lettuce to make a spicy, colourful Mexican salad which you can use nachos as utensils for. Add tangerines to roast duck salads, or mix them with toasted walnuts and blue cheese for a poignant, tangy dish.
As with most things in the kitchen, the combinations are endless. It’s all up to your taste-buds and imagination.